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Travel & Food

Ultimate Guide to Expressways in the Philippines: SLEX, NLEX, and More!

You've scored a long weekend and your barkada is craving Tagaytay's famous bulalo. Or maybe you're dreaming of Pampanga's bringhe, its rich flavors are calling your name. But the thought of Metro Manila traffic is a major buzzkill. Thankfully, the expanding network of expressways in the Philippines is here to make your journey to distant locations a breeze.

 

From cruising down the scenic South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to driving up north on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), these modern highways cut through traffic and connect you to your destination faster than ever.


To help you navigate through the Metro, here’s everything you need to know about SLEX, NLEX, and other Philippine expressways.

Enjoy an Effortless Journey on South Luzon Expressway

Asian woman driving her car.

Cruising down SLEX? Check your RFID balance, follow the speed limit, and enjoy the scenic drive south.

Have you recently checked the list of Philippine holidays to plan a quick getaway? A food trip or diving weekend with the gang sounds so good. Luckily, that’s doable through SLEX.

 

SLEX is operated by San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The company offers Autosweep RFID, which can also be used on the NAIA Expressway (NAIAX), Star Tollway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). The SLEX installation sites for Autosweep are as follows:

 

  • Southwoods Toll Plaza northbound, SLEX
  • After Calamba Entry Toll Plaza, SLEX
  • Eton Toll Plaza northbound, SLEX
  • TPLEX Tarlac Main Office northbound, SLEX

SLEX Entry/Exit and Toll Matrix

If you’re coming from Magallanes and exiting Sta. Rosa to get to Tagaytay, you’ll be charged ₱181 on your Autosweep. For a back-and-forth trip costing ₱362, you can already enjoy a warm bowl of bulalo! Visit the Toll Regulatory Board for a complete list of fees.

Get a Smoother Ride on the North Luzon Expressway

Driver's point of view of the NLEX SCTEX interchange highway.

Heading north on NLEX? Plan your route, stay alert, and enjoy the smooth ride to your destination.

Craving for a plate of bringhe? You won’t need to endure a stressful trip just to have this Kapampangan rice dish, made rich and flavorful by coconut milk, turmeric, and native chicken, thanks to NLEX. Check out the North Luzon Expressway map to find the best route and familiarize yourself with the exits and interchanges.

 

The Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) operates NLEX. For road access, they provide motorists with the Easytrip RFID, which is also recognized at the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), Cavite-Manila Expressway (CAVITEX), Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), and C5 Southlink. Installation sites for Easytrip along NLEX include the following:

 

  • Bocaue Barrier Lane, Lane X01, NLEX
  • Balintawak Lane, Lane N10, NLEX

NLEX Entry/Exit and Toll Matrix

From Balintawak to Angeles, you’ll be charged a toll of ₱302. For a round trip, that should be around ₱604 (excluding gas). Check out the Toll Regulatory Board for a complete list of fees.

Cruise with Ease on Skyway Stage 3 (MMSS-3)

Young Asian businessman driving a car on the skyway.

Enjoy quicker commutes and breathtaking city views on the Skyway.

The Skyway Stage 1 connected SLEX and NLEX, while Skyway Stage 2 made travel to and from Bicutan and Alabang easy. With MMSS-3’s completion, motorists have attained another level of commuting comfort. The road connects key locations in Metro Manila, which results in cutting travel time significantly. MMSS-3 has five sections:

 

  • Section 1: Buendia, Makati – Quirino Avenue – Nagtahan (3.37 km)
  • Section 2: Nagtahan – Aurora Boulevard/Ramon Magsaysay  Avenue (6.19 km)
  • 2A: Nagtahan – Tomas Claudio (0.96 km)    
  • 2A: Tomas Claudio – PUP Sta. Mesa (1.30 km)
  • 2B: Tomas Claudio – Ramon Magsaysay Avenue/San Juan River (3.93 km)
  • Section 3: Ramon Magsaysay – Quezon Avenue (2.71 km)
  • Section 4: Quezon Avenue – Balintawak, Quezon Avenue (4.46 km)
  • Section 5: Balintawak, Quezon City – NLEX Footbridge (1.56 km)

Skyway Stage 3 Entry/Exit and Toll Matrix

The Skyway Stage 3, also operated by SMC, honors the Autosweep RFID. From Quezon Avenue to NLEX, expect to pay ₱129 one way.

Other Key Expressways in the Philippines

While SLEX, NLEX, and Skyway Stage 3 are major players, the Philippines has several other expressways that make travel a breeze:

  • Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX): A vital link between the economic zones of Subic and Clark, SCTEX also provides access to the provinces of Tarlac and Zambales.
  • Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX): Stretching all the way to the scenic province of La Union, TPLEX is a popular route for beachgoers and surfers.
  • Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX): Connecting Metro Manila to Cavite, CAVITEX offers easy access to the historic city of Cavite and the booming industrial areas of the province.
  • Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX): This new expressway further improves connectivity between Cavite and Laguna, making it easier to reach industrial parks, residential areas, and tourist destinations.
  • NAIA Expressway (NAIAX): This short but crucial expressway provides a direct link between the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and major thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
  • Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR Tollway): Connecting the provinces of Batangas and Quezon, STAR Tollway offers an alternative route to SLEX for travelers heading south.

Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX): A recently completed expressway in Central Luzon, CLLEX connects the SCTEX and TPLEX, bypassing congested city roads and significantly reducing travel times between Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.

Expressway Rules, Safety, and More

Young Asian woman putting her seatbelt on in the car.

Safety first: Remember to wear your seatbelt, check your speed, keep right, and use your signal.

To ensure a safe and smooth journey on Philippine expressways:

 

  • Observe Speed Limits: 60 km/h to 100 km/h depending on the expressway and vehicle type.
  • Maintain Safe Following Distance: A safe distance from the vehicle in front of you is typically considered to be three seconds. To gauge the three-second distance, pick a fixed object like a road sign or tree. When the vehicle ahead passes that object, count "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three." If you reach the same object before you finish counting, you're following too closely and should increase your distance.
  • Stay Alert and Focused: Avoid distractions like mobile phones while driving.
  • Use Hazard Lights: In case of breakdowns, turn on your hazard lights and pull over to the shoulder.

 

Keep in mind that toll fees vary depending on the distance traveled and the specific expressway. You can usually find the expressway toll fee matrix online or at the toll booths.


The Philippines is actively investing in infrastructure development to improve its expressway network. Maintenance and rehabilitation are ongoing to ensure the safety and efficiency of these crucial roads. The government is also exploring smart highway technologies to enhance traffic management and safety.

FAQs

Have any looming concerns? We’ve got you covered!

 

  • How do I drive on the expressways in the Philippines?
    Driving on the expressway is all about staying alert and following the rules. Always keep to the rightmost lane unless you're overtaking slower vehicles, and use your turn signals well in advance to indicate lane changes or exits. Maintain a steady speed within the posted limits and avoid abrupt braking or acceleration.
  • When can I stop on the expressway?
    You should only stop on the expressway in the following situations:
    • Emergencies: If your vehicle breaks down or you experience an emergency, pull over to the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights, and call for assistance.
    • Designated Areas: You can stop at designated rest areas or lay-bys for breaks, refueling, or using the restroom.
  • What’s the correct speed when merging onto the expressway?
    When merging onto the expressway, you should match your speed to the flow of traffic in the lane you're entering. Accelerate smoothly and merge safely when there's a gap in traffic. Avoid merging at speeds significantly lower than the traffic flow, as this can cause disruptions and accidents.
  • Are cash lanes still open?
    Yes, these expressways still honor cash transactions, but the plan is to go cashless eventually. Applying ASAP should help you avoid inconveniences in case they completely renounce cash-based payments.
  • What will happen if I pass by a toll gate with no balance left?
    If your RFID suddenly runs out of load, you’ll still be allowed to pass through. However, you might be asked to reload near the toll gate or at the next ticket booth. In case you pass by a toll gate thrice with no load, you may be subject to penalties.
  • How can I reload my RFIDs?
    You may view your current balance or reload your RFIDs through multiple channels. You may visit their respective pages, load via GCash or by using your Rewards points, and add balance through text. To make things easier for you, take some time to check out our ultimate Autosweep and Easy Trip RFID guide!

Get Moving

With the Philippines' ever-growing network of expressways, your next road trip adventure is just around the corner. Embrace the freedom, convenience, and breathtaking scenery these highways offer.

 

Whether it's a culinary journey, a beach getaway, or a cultural exploration, let the expressways in the Philippines be your guide to a truly unforgettable experience. And don't forget to stay connected on the go! Power up your mobile device with a GoSURF promo like GoLISTEN&TRAVEL to navigate with ease, share your adventures, listen to music on Spotify, and stay entertained throughout your journey.

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